Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. ~ Eckhart Tolle
While we were living through the pandemic, it became a bit of a farce to refer to the times we were living through as unprecedented. They were and still are to a great extent. However, we’ve all started to accept that uncertainty is a new normal, and change is happening at an even more rapid pace.
In times like these, it’s even more important to have the stability of annual holidays like Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time when we think about what we are grateful for. That can be quite a big task when faced with an unprecedented time.
What We’re Grateful For
As we here at The Heffelfinger Company start to reflect on what we’re grateful for, there’s a lot that comes to mind. James and I start to think about how much our family and friends mean to us. That extends out to our colleagues and clients. After all, these are the people who have truly shaped our lives in 2022 and beyond. They’ve supported us, challenged us, and been the constant we needed when things were unpredictable.
We’re also very grateful for our continued health, something that has been even more precarious during the last few years. We sometimes think of our health as a given, something that will always be there without much thought or effort. However, the pandemic really put a light on how important it is to think about your health and celebrate it often.
What are you grateful for? We’d love to hear what has been getting you through the year too. Drop us a line to let us know what you’re giving thanks for this year: email@example.com.
The Meaning of Gratitude
While we may all be able to come up with things we are grateful for, it’s a bit harder to come up with a working definition of gratitude. Is it an emotion or an action? Is it like a muscle that gets stronger the more you use it? Does everyone experience it differently?
These questions and more were examined in a white paper put together by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.
The studies referenced found evidence that a grateful disposition is associated with better overall health, life satisfaction, and happiness.
You might be thinking that sounds somewhat cyclical. Of course, someone who has a lot to be grateful for is going to be happier with their life overall. However, it’s not the quantity of what someone has to be grateful for that makes the effect. It’s simply the act of embracing and thinking about gratitude. Even when we have little in life, being grateful for those things can change our disposition entirely.
It’s like Oprah Winfrey says, “Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.”
Uncertainty & Gratitude
Today, this might be referred to as an abundance mindset or simply positive thinking. It doesn’t mean we ignore the things that can be improved or turn a blind eye to injustices; it just means we take time to show ourselves compassion by being grateful for what we have.
It can be difficult in times of uncertainty to let those thoughts of gratitude in. Pema Chodron does a great job explaining how anger can often take over in our bodies when we’re not connecting to things like gratitude.
She says, “Anger is a universal human emotion, and it can manifest in some pretty nasty ways. But it is also amazingly workable…By taking responsibility for the seeds of aggression in our own hearts and minds, we can help create a new culture of compassion for ourselves and for the world.”
The Gratitude Questionnaire
As a way to help you understand how much you’re practicing gratitude in your everyday life, we want to share the gratitude questionnaire from that UC Berkeley white paperwe mentioned earlier.
Using the scale below as a guide, write a number beside each statement to indicate how much you agree with it. 1 = strongly disagree 2 = disagree 3 = slightly disagree 4 = neutral 5 = slightly agree 6 = agree 7 = strongly agree
____ 1. I have so much in life to be thankful for.
____ 2. If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list.
____ 3. When I look at the world, I don’t see much to be grateful for.
____ 4. I am grateful to a wide variety of people.
____ 5. As I get older, I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events, and situations that have been part of my life history.
____ 6. Long amounts of time can go by before I feel grateful for something or someone.
If you notice that you are struggling with gratitude based on this questionnaire, this might be a good time to start a gratitude journal or just intentionally take time to think about what you’re truly grateful for. You can even start at the Thanksgiving dinner table by going around and sharing what everyone is thankful for.
Remember, we are grateful for YOU. We hope you have an excellent Thanksgiving and finish out 2022 with more gratitude than ever before.
Lori and James
Lori Heffelfinger and James Jackman